Passing It On | Great Design Tips from Other Experts

We recently found an article listing some timeless design advice that anybody can use or share.  It's great because it really simplifies certain aspects of what makes good design which can be super helpful for the regular homeowner.  There are definitely things about design that are complicated but not all of it has to be, so here are some very basic rules to follow that will keep your design inline.

Here's our summary and paraphrase of what the writer had to say!

Don't be afraid to express yourself in your design.  This is not supposed to be cheesy even though it's coming off like that.  It really means that you need to show your personality in your decor--that's what makes it unique and special rather than cookie-cutter.  It's your home, afterall, so it should look like you!  Part of expressing yourself is knowing your design style so that you CAN express it.  So be sure to pick a direction.  Even if you like a lot of different things, it's best to stay with one style--it helps you eliminate uncertainty in selections and will make your space more cohesive!

The first point flows into our second point---pick art because you love it!  Art is ART--it's special, it's unique, it doesn't always have to match.  It's a conversation piece, a focal point and can stand alone.  Without being concerned about being super deep, consider how the art affects you.  You want to be excited about looking at something hanging on your walls, so don't put something up that just matches or else it will quickly be a disappointment.

Mix high and low.  As designers, we have to do this all. the. time.  There are certain pieces that are worth the money and there are certain pieces that aren't.  It's also ok for you to have pieces of different price points in the same room.  Don't feel like one expensive piece will dictate the entire direction of the room.   When in doubt, too, revert to our rule on art--don't buy it if you don't like it.  Make sure you're picking pieces that you want to use and look at!

Measure.  Double measure.  And then check again.  Size and scale are super important for the flow of a if you're ordering an item online and haven't actually seen it in person, get a visual on the measurements in the space.  Use a tape measure or painters tape or something!  If you get an item that's off in scale for a great deal, you automatically lost avoid that with this simple solution.

Don't jump into a paint color.  Paint on a little swatch is MUCH different than paint on an entire wall.  For designers, we can visualize so it's not as hard for us to pick a color quickly, but if you struggle with color, don't hesitate to hesitate!  Paint a little area on the wall, look at it at different times of day and in different lights, see if it catches your eye or ends up being a color you hate.  Once you're sure you love it, then go with it.  You'll be happy with your decision.

In the end, if you're still struggling with how to make a room come together, just call us!  We can always help. :)


Floor Planning | Creating Two Spaces Out of One

Since open plans are becoming more and more popular, it's not uncommon for us to have very large spaces to work with for floor planning.  On one hand, it's nice because space is great but on the other hand it can create a design dilemma because we have to figure out how to separate the spaces using furniture rather than walls.  And even then, you may want to separate the space but you don't necessarily want it to feel disconnected.  Do you see why people hire us?

Today we're going to give you some tips for furnishing larger rooms and making them into two functional spaces without actually building walls.  It allows for a great party space and also gives you tons of seating but may take a little more planning than you like.

First of all, it's always important to ground the space.  If your room has wood or tile, you absolutely need a rug...or rugs.  This can be one large rug that visually ties the entire space together even if it's being used as two separate rooms, or it can be 2 smaller rugs to create the two separate spaces.  It can be nice to have one larger rug instead of two because it makes the space feel like it flows, even if it can be used for different purposes.

The trick with bringing in different kinds of furniture is that it all needs to flow.  If you're making a great room into a seating area and dining area, it needs to make sense when it's all seen together even if it's not always going to be used together.   Bring in lighter pieces that don't feel too heavy.  Since it's a lot of furniture, you don't want the eye to get overwhelmed with so many different pieces.

Even if your colors are light, bring in lots of texture to create depth.  Since the room is already a vast expanse, it needs something to give it variety.  Play with textures in fabrics, rugs, pillows, and art to help broaden to overall feel.

Be sure to use your lighting to help further define the space.  Hang a statement chandelier over the dining table and a fun flush mount in the seating area.  Bring in the ambient lighting as well for more layering.  Lighting matters!

Finally, don't forget to treat your windows.  Regardless of whether or not you have a small window or a window that runs the entire length of the room, don't forget to bring the softgoods up!  The walls and windows needs to be treated as well!

On Display | Kids Artwork

I've always been a lover of art but I've also been very selective about what gets put on display.  Too much art can feel very cluttery and busy if it's not displayed well and then it looses all impact it might have had.  However, when my son started his toddler class, and I was getting multiple art projects sent home each week, I realized that I might not be able to be as selective about what was displayed.  However, still not willing to sacrifice my walls to a cluttery mess, I've held on to his art waiting until I could figure out the best way to display it.  This post is a re-cap of a great article on Houzz that discusses some great ways to display your children's art in your home.  There are options for single, big-impact pieces as well as gallery-type displays for multiple pieces!  So pick which works best for the type and amount of art you have and run with it!

In the beginning it's hard because you want to keep every little piece of art they make since it's all so new.  It's still a novelty and you appreciate how each piece shows them learning and developing more in their skills.  However, as they get older, it can become burdensome because you're past the novelty phase but your child has some lofty expectations of what should be done with each piece they bring home (no matter how many).  So how do you meet their expectations for praise and save your walls?!  Try a rotating display where multiple pieces are "featured" until the new ones replace them---almost like a gallery.  This will allow your kids to feel like you're proud of their artwork and then about when they've forgotten about it, you can swap out the old for the new!

Go for the old staple--the wire and clip display.  This easy, inexpensive method using Ikea's Dignitet Wire Curtain Rod has been a go-to for moms for years.  Why?  Because it works!  It's clean and nondescript and does the job.  The wires come in multiple lengths so you can customize your display based on where it's going in your home.

Tie up the pieces by getting them bound...literally.  Instead of trying to find wall space for each piece (especially if you have multiple kids), consider having the artwork bound into a book.  Both a little flip book or a coffee table book could make fun additions to your home and are great conversation starters for guests.  It doesn't hurt that this method is also WAY more condensed.

If you don't have a lot of artwork from your kids but would like more to display, put your kids to work!  It's so fun to see how each child has a different process for creating artwork and of course the outcome is always very different too.  So commission them to create something you can display.  Whether you get a big blank canvas they can splatter paint all over or some white art paper that can be used as wrapping paper or a book cover, make the art functional so it works for you!

Pro Tips | Closet Storage

Closets can be a pretty big conundrum for many people...which is why closet designers have a job!  Figuring out the best way to layout your hanging storage and then also adding in all the extra for shoes, hats, bags, belts, jewelry...and whatever else you plan to keep in there is not an easy task!  And whether or not you realize it, closets have accessories too.  How do you think storages like "The Container Store" have stayed in business?!  Obviously a closet system is not an inexpensive investment so you're probably not trying to spend a ton of money on the other accessories you'll need.  Which is why we're posting this today!  We're sharing with you some tips from the pros on what sort of closet storage items aren't worth the money!  So remember these items when you're navigating organization world.

First up, the hanger debate!  There are a variety of hangers out there with pros and cons for each.  Obviously, wire hangers are out!  Pointy shoulders and messy closets are not what we're looking for.  Plastic hangers are a step up and little more streamlined but can still be slippery and may not keep clothing in place like you would like.  They're not too thick, though, so you can still maximize hanging space in your closet.  Velvet hangers are nice to keep clothing in place but they have a very thin frame and can sometimes leave shoulder marks.  And then there's the most expensive, wood hangers.  Great for helping clothes keep shape and slippage but they use up a lot of space on the rail.  Based on that info, you decide what hangers are best for you!

Aside from wire hangers, there's only one hanger pros say not to buy and that's the tiered hanger!  For personal experience, we would agree.  In theory, it adds storage space but it makes it extremely difficult to see what's hanging up.  The skirt or pair of pants in the middle just gets left and forgotten because you can barely see it and forget about hanging it back up with everything else still on the hanger!

Pros also say, don't waste money on "convenient" stackable shoe storage.  While it looks great in the adds, it's unnecessary.  All you need is shelving.  If your closet has adjustable shelves, these are a great place for shoes!  Or if it doesn't, bring in a simple adjustable shelf so you can go up with your storage!

While boxes in closets seem nice and do add storage, they're not practical.  For starters, remembering what's inside the box is always a challenge and forget being able to access anything in it if the box is stacked.  If you must use boxes, buy something inexpensive (think IKEA not Container Store) and keep a single row low so it's easily accessible.

Finally, professionals say that cloth lined hampers are great IF the liner is removable and washable!  Any sort of damp towel or pair of clothing that sits in a fabric-lined hamper can grow mold or mildew so it's important to be able to wash the liner.  Breathable is better when it comes to damp, dirty clothes and towels.

We really love a well-organized closet so if you've got pics of yours, share them below!

How To Spend| Not Every Big Item Has To Be Expensive

We love expensive things, that's for sure.  But we also understand that everyone has a budget.  And while it would be nice to have that client who says "spend whatever you want!", we're pretty sure it's never going to happen, so we're totally ok with getting the look without the price.  And today, that's what we're going to talk about.  There are big items in every home--key items that can make a very large impact on the overall look of the space.  And while it IS important that they look good, they don't all have to be super expensive. 

Here's the breakdown.

So many people want a real wood dining table.  Something ridiculously expensive that they can brag about to their friends (because, let's be honest, they're not passing it down to their kids)...but dining tables are not the place to blow your budget.  Size and scale is absolutely important, but if you can find a lovely piece that is the correct size, scale, and style, and it's affordable, go for it!  In fact, we'd say, make it a goal because it'll leave money to spent in other places where it matters more.

Like, say....the dining room light!  Lighting is HUGE!  And while it is absolutely possible to find inexpensive lighting that looks good, lighting is just kind of expensive and it's hard to be confined to a tight budget when you want (and need) a killer statement piece.  So don't be afraid to spend a little more money (than you'd planned) on your dining room light fixture.  It'll make a big impact and an expensive light fixture is usually pretty obvious.

In the family room, it can be really easy to get sucked into spending a lot of money on that really cool Eames chair or something else that will rarely get sat in.  But stop yourself!  While decorative pieces should look cool, they are NOT worth breaking the bank over.   Instead, put your money into a quality sofa or sectional.  In a family room where it will be used over and over, you're going to want something that's comfortable and durable!

When it comes to your kitchen, it can be really hard to decide where to spend the money because....everything seems expensive!  But after cabinets, the next most important thing in your kitchen is definitely countertops so spend there.  The countertops of a kitchen are like the sofa of the family room.  It'll be used and abused and needs to be able to withstand wear like a champ.  One place to save in a kitchen, where people often want to blow it, is the tile.  Kitchen floors and a kitchen backsplash can be understated, inexpensive, and beautiful.  

Finally, the bedroom.  It may sound crazy but drapery matters!  Well-made, expensive drapery can literally make or break a room.  We're not kidding.  Spend the money.  They'll last and they'll make the impact you want.  Instead, save a little money be skipping the expensive sheets.  There are some very soft, luxurious-feeling sheets out there that are completely affordable, so don't fool yourself into thinking you need to spend the money to get the look...because nobody will see them!

We believe that good design comes from being about to find beauty in everything--the expensive AND the inexpensive.  So mixing high and low is important and can make a home feel collected rather than like a model.  And these tips that we shared with you today can help you accomplish that!